“On Pennies, McNuggets, Polynomials and How to Help the Government Save Money” by Dr. Ricardo Conceicao (Gettysburg College)
In the ’80s, McDonald’s restaurants sold boxes containing 6, 9 or 20 chicken McNuggets. It was impossible to purchase exactly four or ten nuggets. What other exact numbers of nuggets were we not able to buy? The solution to this question is related to a classical problem in the frontier of number theory and discrete mathematics, known as the Diophantine Frobenius Problem. In this talk we discuss how this famous problem connects the apparently random string of words in the title. Along the way, we will learn about some of its history, applications and generalizations. As an example, we show that it can be used to help the American government not only to save $52.9 million yearly but to also turn a modest profit.
The Natural Science and Mathematics Colloquium is sponsored by KBRwyle.